Acupuncture Can Effectively Treat Many Women’s Health Issues

Acupuncture is a natural, drug free treatment option that is increasingly popular in the Western world. In the West, it is primarily associated with pain relief. However, it is often used to treat a wide range of other health conditions. One of the areas where it has been shown to be effective is in women’s health concerns.

Acupuncture is a practice that involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into the body at certain points. This is a holistic treatment, meant to treat the body as a whole organism rather than isolating separate parts. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, acupuncture works by restoring the balance of yin and yang in the body, and enhancing or correcting the flow of Qi (energy) by removing blockages that can cause all kinds of pain and illnesses, including many problems specific to women’s health.

Many practitioners of this ancient art as well as their patients claim that these treatments can successfully reduce or alleviate problems such as irregular or heavy periods, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), uterine fibroids, and even problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and other infertility issues. Acupuncturists utilize techniques that are thought to help regulate the ovarian cycle, stimulate egg production, improve the balance of hormones and even increase blood flow to the womb.

A German study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2008 showed that the majority of women who had acupuncture for menstrual cramps, discomfort and pain saw at least a 33 percent reduction in their pain level as compared to women who received no treatment. In addition, a Danish study found that women receiving acupuncture had a significantly higher rate of pregnancy versus a control group who did not receive this treatment.

Many more general studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce natural steroids and release endorphins, which help to reduce inflammation and pain. All practitioners agree that their techniques enhance the mind and body’s own ability to heal itself, and women’s issues are no exception to the rule.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine often use herbs as well as dietary, exercise and lifestyle advice in conjunction with acupuncture treatments to obtain better results. Also, it is not uncommon for acupuncture to be successfully used as a complementary therapy along with more “mainstream” fertility and women’s health care options. In fact, some acupuncturists have extensive schooling in both Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which can help them better integrate different types of care for maximum efficacy.

Women Have Concerns About Health Care Reform

A recent study conducted on behalf of The Independent Women’s Forum disclosed that health care was one of many economic concerns for American women. Only 16 percent said it was the top issue facing Congress and just over half the respondents placed health care among the leading three. Yet the people in Washington have placed this issue ahead of everyday living expenses, energy costs, unemployment and other financial problems.

It’s interesting that two-thirds of those surveyed think reform is more for other people than themselves. They would prefer not being included in any proposed changes (54%). This was confirmed when 57 percent of respondents indicated they do not feel a government-run plan is best for their needs. And, a whopping 75 percent want few to no changes to their own health care program. Less than 10 percent of respondents are looking for action in the next few weeks with most wishing for a quality bill rather than one with artificial deadlines.

The price tag of health care reform has major political implications. A cost of $829 billion over the next 10 years was deemed to too high by a plurality of women and 55 percent believe this figure is underestimated compared to what will actually be spent. Therefore, 45 percent would be less likely to vote for a candidate supporting this amount or more; and 67 percent would not vote for someone in favor of moving people from private to government-run health care.

When asked to describe the quality of their health insurance, 66 percent claimed it was “good” to “excellent,” and 74 percent used the same terms to describe the quality of their health care. They are satisfied with what they have and are against anyone who might disturb this situation by a margin of more than two to one.

Women said the government spends money inefficiently (77%). About 48 percent look to the insurance companies to lower costs while ensuring quality health care. And 61 percent believe the private sector does a better job of providing choice.

More than half the women think the quality of care will get worse for their families and themselves if the government becomes responsible for the administration of health care for all Americans. By a margin of four to one, it was believed government involvement would result in a decrease in the number of doctors practicing medicine.

In spite of the concerns about costs and coverage, 67 percent of women agreed “everyone should sacrifice a little in order to make health care available to all.” Younger women and pre-boomer and older were in greatest agreement. This may be because they have less taxable income compared to those in the mid-range age groups.

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine And Women’s Health

One of my favorite stories about what Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) can do is the story of a mother of three who had been dealing with urinary frequency problems. This had been an issue for about 10 years and her life revolved around this problem. Headed on a downward spiral, she was unable to get a good night’s rest and was afraid to drive long distances or even go to the movies. Her life revolved around this problem and her frustration mounted as she had been to every specialist and tried every medication her doctor could think of without any success. At that point, her doctor was at a loss and was suggesting a psychology referral or perhaps a trial surgery. The doctors last resort strategy was further adding insult to injury as this mother stated that the problem was not psychological and was frustrated that anyone would suggest that her having to urinate over twenty times per day was in her head.

Feeling despondent, someone suggested that she try going to a osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) specialist. Not sure what to expect but feeling like there was nothing to lose, she decided to try osteopathic manipulation. After careful analysis, the doctor treated this patient’s organs including bladder, kidneys and ureters among other things, her symptoms were markedly improved instantly. Over the next several weeks, her symptoms continued to improve until they fully resolved. The next time she saw this doctor again about a year later, he asked how her bladder symptoms were. She looked at him puzzled and asked “what bladder symptoms?” After telling some of the specialist what resolved her symptoms, some of her doctors refused to believe that osteopathic manipulation played any role in her improvement.

Having been a medical student at the time, I cannot take credit for this result. It was Stephen Myles Davidson, D.O. in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the reason I am so familiar with this patient is because this patient was my mother. I was present for that particular treatment and know that the resolution of her symptoms was not by random chance. It was this treatment that stopped her downward spiral and to this day she leads a normal life. So what is osteopathic manipulative medicine? Osteopathic manipulative medicine is a holistic hands-on treatment approach that includes an understanding that there is a close relationship between the structure and function of the body, the body functions as a unit and the body is a capable self-healing mechanism. Osteopathic physicians are trained to treat every tissue in the body from head to toes.

Urinary problems can occur with women who have had children. I am not suggesting all urinary frequency problems will resolve with osteopathic manipulative medicine because there are many different etiologies for it. However, it may be good to try when other conservative treatments have failed. Under the right circumstances, osteopathic manipulation can be used to maximize organ function, hormone balance and health. With a holistic whole-body approach, it can be used to gently treat many women’s health issues such as PMS symptoms, cramping, painful periods and migraines related to periods in addition to many other problems such as musculoskeletal pain.